The threat of femicide in Turkey has reached a turning point as investigations recently unveiled skeptical causes for almost half of all incidents.
Just this February, a total of 47 women were killed. In March, 25 more incidents were reported.
The ages of the victims were, on average, between 36 and 65. Reports also showed that a startling number of these incidents occurred in Istanbul.
Violence against women has been a prominent issue in Turkey throughout its history. The reports found that in over half of the femicide cases, the aggressor was someone the victim knew personally – 40 percent were spouses and 11 percent were fiancés.
In an effort to combat imprecise reporting, Turkish Journalist Ceyda Ulukaya created a map of femicides to track the incidents and known causes. She created the interactive map because, of all the reported cases, only 22.4 percent of them included the cause of the crime.
The Turkish government needs to address the difference between theory and practice when it comes to regulations against domestic violence. The treatment of women as “second-class citizens” could be partially attributed to the fact that the government will often conceptualize plans to improve the issues women encounter but most of these plans are never put into place.
For example, the Turkish government signed a law in 2011 that required cities to open at least one shelter for women. Amnesty International later discovered that an abysmal number of shelters had actually been built – 90 out of the estimated 3,000 – and they were in subpar condition.
But perhaps the biggest contributor to violence against women is that the majority of male culprits do not face serious sentences for their crimes.
In 2016, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim attempted to pass a bill that would pardon men convicted of sex with underage girls if they married them. The uprising that followed was massive. Those opposed said it “legitimized statutory rape and encouraged the practice of child brides.” The bill was ultimately scrapped but is a good indicator of where Turkish ideals may lie.
The lack of deterrent is highly detrimental to the safety of Turkish women. It shows aggressors that committing violent acts against women – including femicide, verbal or physical abuse, and more – can and will go relatively unpunished. A man showing “good and regretful conduct” does not negate the cruelty of his crimes, yet this behavioral excuse is used to relieve countless men of their sentences.
“Without a concrete reason, a suspect’s sentence should not be decreased automatically for ‘good conduct’ just because he behaved well in court,” said Adem Sözüer, a law professor from Istanbul University.
In order to decrease and possibly end femicides, the Turkish government must create laws against violence that are actually implemented in the physical realm – not just signed and dated on a piece of paper.
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